Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, Jumhuriya Bridge reopened after a year of protest

A general view of Tahrir Square in Baghdad after it was opened to traffic following a year of protests in Baghdad, Iraq on October 31, 2020. (Photo Credit: Media Office of Iraqi National Security Adviser Qassem al-Araji)

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SULAIMANI — Head of the Baghdad Operations Command Qais al-Muhammadawi said on Saturday (October 31) that Jumhuriya Bridge and all roads leading to Tahrir Square in the Iraqi capital have reopened.

According to the state-run Iraqi News Agency, Muhammadawi said that the reopening came at the request of the protesters, who have been occupying strategic locations in central Baghdad since last year. The bridge itself was closed to traffic in order to prevent protesters from accessing the Green Zone.

“To support the service effort in Tahrir Square, the canopies and tents that were in the middle of the street were removed at the initiative of the peaceful demonstrators,” the commander said.

The move was also praised by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

“Our youth in Tahrir Square set amazing national examples for a whole year. Today, they reiterated their patriotic duty by showing the utmost degrees of cooperation with the opening of the protest square to traffic and the restoration of normalcy,” Kadhimi said in a tweet.

“Free and fair elections are the next milestone in change that the youth initiated with enthusiasm a year ago. Iraq will never forget its youth,” he added.

Iraq’s Security Media cell also said that Rashid and Saadoun streets and Tayaran Square were again open to traffic.

The first wave of protests began last year on October 1 and lasted for approximately a week before resuming on October 25. The demonstrations were widespread throughout the central and southern governorates.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has documented that 487 protesters were killed since October 1, 2019, mostly by the security forces or unidentified third groups. Thousands of others were wounded.

Some groups have alleged that the death and injury toll is much higher.

In response to the demonstrations, then-Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi stepped down in November.

(NRT Digital Media)